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What are my options in traffic court?

Apr 01, 2021

Getting a traffic ticket can be frustrating, particularly when you feel you did not deserve it. You may wonder if you have options to fight your ticket. The good news is that North Carolina law provides its citizens with rights even in traffic court. Instead of paying off a ticket or pleading guilty, you may mount a defense through different legal options.

So what can you do if you have a date in traffic court? The North Carolina Judicial Branch website explains some of the options available to you.

Request a trial

A lot of people resolve their traffic cases without going to trial. Still, if you want a trial, you have the right to request one. Keep in mind that District Court handles most traffic cases. Since District Court does not hold jury trials, a judge will mostly likely hear your case. On the other hand, if your traffic ticket results in a misdemeanor charge heard in Superior Court, you may ask for a jury trial.

Appeal your case

Even if a judge rules against you, you might have the option to appeal to Superior Court if the judge convicts you of a misdemeanor ticket. At this level, you may ask for a jury to hear your case. If your new trial does not overturn the previous ruling, you may appeal once more to the Court of Appeals.

Bring in representation

Traffic court does not require you to hire an attorney. However, just like with other court trials, you may hire legal counsel to speak for you and to give you legal advice. In traffic court, a legal representative can negotiate with a prosecutor. Depending on your case, your attorney may even go to the trial without you having to attend.

Traffic cases will vary from person to person, so the exact options available to you may vary to some degree. Still, learning about basic options may be of great benefit if it ends with you defeating a traffic charge.

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